We last spoke to Tone Stith when he dropped his EP ‘FWM’ and ‘Still FWM’ a couple years ago. Since then, he has continued to grow in the R&B scene as more and more people recognize his incredible vocals and talent. Tone recently dropped his newest EP ‘P.O.V’, a 7 track project full of examples of why we believe he is at the top of his game in this genre. We spoke to Tone about the meaning behind ‘P.O.V’, the inspiration behind some songs, his contributions to the current state of R&B, and more.
YKIGS Nicco: Man, I got to say, I’ve been listening to you since ‘Can We Talk’ and this is definitely the best, in my opinion, that you’ve ever sounded. We spoke last time about FWM and still FWM, I want you to compare FWM to POV. Has life influenced the sound of both?
Tone Stith: I would absolutely say that life definitely influenced this next body of work that I just put out. And there’s a lot of situations that I went through and had to grow through and had to live and understand. And I think getting older since ‘Can We Talk’. Getting older and living a bit more life, it just gave me a perspective, a point of view on love and relationship and relationships and the things that go into relationships. I wanted to really tell that story and take everybody on that journey with me, whatever it feels like to really be in a relationship and to really love somebody because I feel like we’re in a toxic world still. So there’s not a lot of love music, it’s coming back, it’s finding its way back. That was my point of view. Compared to ‘Can We Talk’ I just feel like back then I was young. I was young and I just wanted to sing everything and I had fun. It was very experimental, but now this time around it was a direct focus. So I think that’s the difference.
YKIGS Nicco: Last time we spoke I don’t think I actually asked you this, but are there any albums or artists you were listening to when you decided to make this project that influenced the sound? I definitely feel like I hear some Bruno, some 70s stuff going on.
Tone Stith: For sure, I have to definitely give credit to Usher. “Girls Like You”, I was like, Yo, listen, we got to go Usher route. And I listen to a lot of his earlier projects, 8701 and Confessions, but I feel like that era that it was a certain sound back then that he just accomplished really well. And I was like, Yo, I need my project to feel just well put together like this. And so he was definitely a big inspiration for this project. Of course, Marvin Gay. And I don’t know, then I’ll mix that in with myself, but definitely, Usher and I’ll say Usher for sure.
YKIGS Whitney: And you talked a little bit about the title point of view. You got into a little bit, but I do want to know why title it point of view. What was your inspiration behind that? Outside of telling the listeners what it’s like to be in love outside of the toxicity that we’ve been hearing lately.
Tone Stith: For me, the point of view part really came from just telling my story. A lot of the songs are things that I’ve lived, things that I’ve been through, and things that I’ve witnessed and I Need You, for example, that song is made in light of my parents because when I was younger, they weren’t together and about 12, 13, I watched them get back together and I watched them really choose each other every day. And I feel like that’s a rare scenario. And so “I need you” was really made in light of my parents and how they really chose each other and they needed each other to stay together. And then “Girls Like You” is a real situation where the girl, she cheated on me. That’s the only way I can really put it. She cheated on me and it was my first heartbreak that made me really feel like, Okay, I got trust issues now. Now I don’t know about the next person. I’m not too sure. And then with “Lonely”, there was a situation where I cheated on a girl that I was with for a long time too. So it was like, If you don’t deal with your actions and take accountability, hurt people will hurt people. So that’s my point of view, and I just wanted to take everybody through that journey.
YKIGS Whitney: Awesome. So you mentioned three of the songs on the album, but I really want to know about Smoking in the Park. First of all, it’s the first track you hear when you listen to it, and it is melodic, for lack of a better term. It’s so smooth, everything about it just really makes you want to lay back.
Tone Stith: And roll up.
YKIGS Whitney: Exactly. So tell me a little bit about the process behind making that track and the inspiration.
Tone Stith: So I got a shout out my bro, K-P, who’s a producer, produces that song and Corey and everybody that was in the room. But that goes back to the Marvin Gaye influence. I grew up a lot on Marvin Gaye. My mom is the biggest Marvin Gaye fan. And I think I really wanted a song when I heard the music I really wanted a song that was melody driven, something that cuts through, but something that everybody can sing and something that’s smooth. I feel like I haven’t had a track that was as smooth as that. So when I heard that music, I was like, okay, no, you got to get smooth R&B vocals on this.
YKIGS Whitney: And you did. And you did.
Tone Stith: Yeah. I’m not going to lie in that session, we was all smoking. We were all like, What can somebody do together with somebody that’s intimate but not really making love. So I was like, Oh, you can roll up. You could smoke with somebody. And that’s just where I went.
YKIGS Nicco: It’s definitely one of the smoother tracks on the project, but I love how almost every song you have a different tone. I think Troy Taylor might have mentioned this, but you definitely are a master of your tone and just being able to switch it. Something I’m really curious about is why you decide to end it with “Lonely”. I know you said what the song is about, but I love the transition from “Stamina” into that, the whole phone conversation.
Tone Stith: If you listen to the project and follow the videos too that I’m dropping on every week, there’s a storyline. Smoking in the park starts off, smoking in the park with your home girl, somebody that you haven’t crossed the line with, but you have this trust. You have this understanding where it’s like, Yo’, you could tell me anything. I could tell you anything. And that’s how it started smoking in the park, then you go into a “girls like you” at the time of smoking in the park, I’m in a relationship with somebody else. And I got the word like, Oh, my girl cheated on me. So it’s like, Oh, damn. Girls like you messing up for everybody else. That whole scenario. And then I need you is realizing that, yo’, the girl from Smokin’ in the park, my home girl has been there from day one that knows me, knows my secrets. That’s the one that I needed the whole time. And then Reposado is like, I’m going to go to the club, though, clear my mind. I’m going to get lit. I’m going to get lit and not think about going through this heartbreak, and then after the club it’s whoa, I’m going to hit her up. I’m going to be like, You know what? Let’s have a night. Let’s go back to the crib. Let’s have fun. And then you get into stamina where it gets real intimate. And that’s when it really goes down and you all finally cross that line. And then the skit at the end of that is really like, Yo’, the phone is ringing and it’s open, and I got a girl, my ex, saved under Chris. And it’s like, Oh, that’s how it just unravels. It’s like, Oh, you were just doing the same thing that the girl did to you and Girls Like You. And then so you end up lonely. You end up lonely at the end. And you could take that song in many ways, but I really made it and wanted to bring light that I ended up lonely in the end because I didn’t really work out the issues that I needed to work out and figure out who I was and deal with the hurt that I was going through, but I put that same thing on somebody else. So at the end, I ended up lonely, and that’s the accountability part. I wanted to end the project like that.
YKIGS Nicco: I love that storytelling, man. Honestly, to go back to my first statement, I really feel like that’s why I’m enjoying this so much because it’s really you. I feel you so much in this music. Perfect example of why I can’t wait to see all these live (in concert).
Tone Stith: Yeah. Now that’s going to be an experience.
YKIGS Nicco: It’s going to be something else. I know you’re going to open up for Victoria Monet, so speak about that. Are you excited? She’s one of the top right now in our opinion.
Tone Stith: Yeah, I’m super excited. First off, I’m super proud of her. I think she’s been working for so long and so hard. I’m glad she’s getting her flowers and getting that recognition. I think it’s just beginning for her. But to have the opportunity to open up for her on this tour, I’m super excited because this is the real first time that I get to dive in the POV Live on stage. It’s a little something, something, but this is the first show where I’m like, Okay, now I can start welcoming everybody into this world.
YKIGS Whitney: I had the opportunity to see you live here in Atlanta, where you performed before Eric Berlinger and Vedo. Incredible performance. Just wanted to let you know that I see big things for sure.
Tone Stith: Let’s go.
YKIGS Whitney: Yes. So as far as you know, you’ve made a lot of contributions to this genre as a songwriter and now as an artist. So how do you see your music contributing to the evolution of R&B? So we know R&B is shifting. It’s not quite the same as it once was. It’s not bad. It’s not good. It is what it is. You know what I mean? So how is Tone Stith’s music different? How are you contributing to this current state of R&B?
Tone Stith: I feel like you know it’s different. Just even off of first listen. You could tell that, okay, there’s a lot that he embodies, talking about myself, but there’s a lot that I embody. When you listen to my music, I’m influenced by a bunch of people. I mean, Mike, Prince, those are my really top two. But I love just infusing different people’s work that I admire into my own sound. And I think that’s really shining on this project. I don’t think there’s anything like it, and I think it stands out. Over time, these are those stepping stones for me to really showcase the level that I could reach. I think it’s different because it’s just given a new perspective on R&B. It’s fresh. I think it’s the best R&B project out. I really hope everybody’s enjoying it. The feedback that I’m getting, I’m just blown away. I think it’s been three weeks now and people have still just like, Oh, my gosh. It’s still discovering. And yeah, I’m excited for the future.
YKIGS Whitney: Yeah. And for those people who have been supporting you from the beginning, like Nicco and people that are just now discovering the sounds that you give us, what do you want? What are your goals? What are the plans for the future musically?
Tone Stith: For me, I mean, it’s really that Tone Stith was the one that was different. In the next, I’ll say like three years, my goal is to be traveling all across the world, but in a way where R&B is stadium music, if that makes sense. I think there’s only a few people that have reached stadium music from R&B, and that is really my goal. I want that to be at the forefront. I really want to bring that R&B back around to where it’s like, okay, it’s at the top of the charts. It’s staying there. It’s here to stay. But yeah, that’s really my goal for the next few years, and I’m about to put in that groundwork.
YKIGS Whitney: Definitely. Love that for you. I definitely see that for you.
Tone Stith: Thank you.
YKIGS Nicco: You definitely do, man. This is our last question for you and then we’re going to let you get out of here. You mentioned one of the people you really wanted to collaborate was Pharrell last time we spoke. Hopefully, we get to that point because I would love to see that. There’s been a lot more artists coming up. Is there anybody else you want to collaborate that’s on that rising level right now with you?
Tone Stith: There’s a ton of people, man. I would love to work with SZA. I think she’s incredible. My homie, Leon Thomas, he’s incredible. We only got to work one time and that was in Diddy’s camp. But I would love to lock in and really work on stuff together. I would say an interesting person I’ll put in there that I think would be cool to work with is Teezo Touchdown. I really love his music, his approach. I love that he’s pushing the bar, he’s pushing boundaries. And yeah, man, still Pharrell, man. Let’s keep him in the lineup, man. I would love to work with Pharrell.
YKIGS Whitney: We’ll start a petition to see if we can make those things happen.
Tone Stith: Let’s go.
YKIGS Nicco: We love speaking with you, man. We love the project. And like I said, from a male and female perspective, I love that you can touch both both avenues, especially with the guys.
Tone Stith: Appreciate you talking to me.
YKIGS Nicco: Really, truly wish the best for your career and we see big things. So we’ll keep supporting and just good luck with you.
Tone Stith: Thank you. I appreciate you guys. Thank you so much.
YKIGS Whitney: It’s been a pleasure. All the best.
Photo Credit: Jack McKain